Off the Menu
By Christopher Trela & Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy
We’re lucky to have so many noteworthy restaurants in our coastal area, especially Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.
Because we’re on a constant quest for excellent and interesting dining experiences, we recently dined at K’ya Bistro inside the historic La Casa del Camino hotel in Laguna Beach. The restaurant has been there for more than a decade, but, as we sheepishly admitted to our server, this was our first time dining there, although we’ve had drinks and appetizers on their rooftop lounge, which offers splendid views of the Pacific Ocean.
We discovered to our delight that K’ya offers a diverse small plate menu that focuses on flavors from the Mediterranean with a California twist. We love to share, so this was a perfect opportunity to sample several items.
We started with roasted cauliflower ($5) with red hot pepper sauce and gorgonzola crumbles, and roasted Brussels sprouts ($7) with garlic, shallots, gorgonzola cream, aged balsamic, and an herb crust.
We found the portions generous, and the flavors practically leapt from the dish into our mouths.
Next, being risotto fans, we ordered the lobster and truffle risotto ($15) with asparagus, caramelized onion, white wine, and parmesan. Again, the generous portion almost makes this dish a meal in itself.
“I could order this and a glass of wine and be fine the rest of the night,” said Christopher.
Luckily we were sharing (and taking leftovers home), so we ordered the roasted jalapeño and smoked bacon mac n’ cheese ($10), which tasted as sinfully delicious as it sounds.
Next, we tried the grilled octopus ($8) with “kim chee” vegetables, orange, jalapeño, and chili glaze. The dish had just right amount of heat to make it interesting and not overpowering.
We also tried the grilled filet mignon ($15) with mashed potato, spinach and caramelized onion, but by now we’re getting full. However, we talked ourselves into ordering dessert.
We could not decide between the banana pecan bread pudding ($6) with vanilla ice cream and bourbon sauce, or the brownie ice cream bars ($6) with warm salted caramel, so we ordered both. And of course, they both magically disappeared!
The service here was excellent, the ambiance fun and upbeat yet not loud. The prices are more than reasonable for the amount and quality of the cuisine.
They have a nice wine by the glass program that includes half glasses of wine, making it easier to pair small plates with wine.
The K’ya menu has so many interesting options that we vowed to return soon to sample more of the menu—and order more lobster risotto!
Visit kyabistro.com for more information and to view the menu.
Wining and Dining for Charity
Two of our favorite charity dining events are coming up soon, and we advise getting tickets early because they both sell out every year.
Up first is the Pacific Coast Wine Festival, held Feb. 27 at the Island Hotel. This annual fundraiser for Pacific Symphony starts at 5 p.m. with a lengthy reception featuring dozens of wineries pouring some of their premium wines (past selections have included Hundred Acre, Darioush, and many other labels from Napa, Sonoma, and Europe) plus tray passed appetizers. There is also an extensive silent auction with some impressive wine lots and trips.
Then it’s on to a gourmet multi-course dinner with more wine, entertainment and an impressive live auction that always includes exclusive wine-related trips and tours, chef dinners, and rare wines.
Tickets start at $375. Table sponsorships are available. Call (714) 876-2364 or visit PacificCoastWineFestival.com
The following weekend on March 6 is Table for 10. At each table, chefs compose masterpiece signature dishes fit for royalty, create awe-inspiring table designs, pour exquisite wines perfectly paired for each course, and deliver five-star “white glove” service to their guests. It’s an unforgettable culinary experience you won’t want to miss.”
The hotel ballroom fits two-dozen tables set for 10 people, with small cooking areas placed next to each table so that the chef and his team actually do the cooking tableside.
This year the event is being held at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa in Dana Point, but among the 30 plus chefs participating are more than a dozen from Newport Beach and several from Laguna Beach.
From Newport: Pascal Olhats, Café Jardin; Yvon Goetz, The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar; Rachel Haggstrom, Balboa Bay Resort; Tony Trujillo, CUC!NA Enoteca; Mark Hibbs, Fig & Olive; Brian Doherty, Fairmont Newport Beach; Andy Arndt, Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa; David Martin, The Pacific Club; Jean Pierre-Dubray and Micah Severeid, Coliseum Pool & Grill at The Resort at Pelican Hill; Jimmy Chang, Tommy Bahamas Island Grille; Talia Zimmer, True Food Kitchen; and Louie Jocson, Zov’s Bistro.
From Laguna Beach: Casey Overton, The Loft, Montage Laguna Beach; Lindsay Smith-Rosales, Nirvana Grille; Ron Fougeray, Splashes at Surf & Sand Resort.
Our friend Chef Bill Bracken (formerly with Island Hotel and now with his own Bracken’s Kitchen) is one of the cocktail hosts along with Anne Manassero of Manassero Farms, Adam Navidi of Oceans & Earth and Future Foods Farm, and Pascal Olhats.
This year, the event benefits Vocational Visions and The Teen Project.
Individual seats are $500. Visit TableForTen.org for details.